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A grassroots approach to healthy childhoods

Shelby Dehaven, ‘Doah Staff Writer
February 6, 2013

What better way to combat the number of obese children in America than with community service? That is what Shenandoah University’s AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) Erica Shifflett plans to do with a $1,000 grant from United Healthcare. Using this grant, Shifflett and a group of S.U. students are implementing the “Hiking Your Way to Healthy Living” program at the Boys and Girls Club in Winchester.

According to the website, VISTA is a program where “members commit to serve full-time for a year at a nonprofit organization or local government agency, working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, strengthen community groups, and much more.”

Shifflett explains that Shenandoah University also wants “to build capacity for increased student involvement in service activities, particularly with the 54 partner organizations of Our Health, an umbrella non-profit organization.”

In collaboration with four S.U. students, Shifflett completed a plan that fit both of these requirements.

“The Hiking Your Way to Healthy Living” program will allow Shenandoah University students the opportunity to work with 30 middle school students in an after school program at the Boys and Girls Club,” Shifflett explains.

For 13 weeks, the students will attend one weekly, hour-long class on “the importance of physical activity, healthy living and hiking safety.”

Each lesson will be broken down between 20 minutes of instruction and 40 minutes of activity that reinforce what they just learned.

In addition to weekly classes, Shifflett stated that “each student will receive a pedometer, a physical activity journal to record their daily physical activity to allow for weekly goal setting, as well as healthy snacks.”

As part of their service-learning project, the middle school students will then work with elementary school students to pass on the importance of physical activity and healthy eating.

The final stage of the project will take place in late April, as a health fair collaboration among the students at the Boys and Girls Club, S.U. students, students from James Wood High School and members of Our Health.

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